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Old 08-30-2016, 02:06 PM   #1
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Radiolabs Wireless solutions / Project

I wanted to start a thread with what I came up with for a wireless solution for my Airstream. Many of you have gone with the Wi-Fi ranger (I almost did!) but I wanted to talk with you about the direction I went.

Radiolabs is new to me and after doing some research; I think they may have a better solution, at least for me.

To start, I needed to identify how I wanted to use the system. One requirement was the strongest possible system that could pull in Wi-Fi signals from as far away as possible. That meant that the antenna might have to be larger than what most owners would subject the roof of their Airstreams to. The weight of the antenna was a factor, as I did not want to damage the roof in any way or to install a tall antenna that gradually pulled away or bent the roof from the additional leverage.

I also wanted a repeater that could act as my router for a Wi-Fi network inside the trailer. I want to use a Google Chromecast device on each TV so I can broadcast movies or YouTube. The Chromecast will not operate if you do not have a network router setup in your trailer. It needs to pick up an IP address from the router to connect to the Internet on it’s own. Those familiar with Chromecast know that once you’ve sent the movie to the Chromecast, it’s on its own. It starts streaming from the Internet and not from your device (phone, CPU, etc.).

Another requirement is that I did not want to deal with all the wires and power cords within the trailer if possible. That would require routing the device into one of the outside storage areas.

I wanted to get the antenna as high in the air as practical. That said, I was willing to give up a permanent solution that is installed on the roof. It means that my system would be setup at the campsite.

The Wi-Fi Ranger (elite) has a 13” antenna that sports a router built right into the base of the antenna. Neat solution! You can hook the 12v power to it and it acts as a wireless router and gives you access in and around the trailer. The software that comes built in the unit allows you to locate and access the different Wi-Fi location just like your router at home. It mounts on the roof as in my case, as I do not have the TV antenna that cranks up. That means I would have to attach to the refrigerator vent (top) and route behind the refrigerator. There is 12v and 120v behind the refrigerator accessible through the vent outside. This would be adequate, but not quite as powerful as other solution.

There is a company that has been doing wireless solutions for 14 years. Radiolabs has quite a few product and solutions for both RV and Marine use. I opted for the more robust marine system.

You can call Radiolabs and they will answer. They were very helpful in explaining the pros and cons of their product. The system I chose was the USB Wifi repeater along with an incredibly powerful 63” marine antenna called the “XL”. The XL requires power but through the 15’ USB came that is permanently sealed as it goes into the unit. The USB gets routed through to the Repeater and just plugs in. The repeater (router) can use 120v or 12v to power it. Since my antenna was going to be mounted to a pole, I am opting to route the USB cable into the rear refrigerator outside access where I can pick up the 120v or 12v. There is actually an AC plug mounted in there!

To provide the height I wanted for the antenna, I’ve came up with an antenna extension that breaks down into two parts. It is made up of two 5.5’ long stainless steel tubes 1” in diameter that are coupled together with parts I found from Shakespeare antenna manufacturer. A Shakespeare 4006 female ferrule is basically a coupler between the tubes. On each end of the tubes I added a Shakespeare 4705 Pipe Adapter that screws into the ferrule. I also added another pipe adapter to the very top tube so the Radiolabs antenna can screw into that. The threads of the Shakespeare parts are all marine antenna 14 pitch. So I have an antenna that breaks down into 3 parts and is 16 feet tall.

The 5.5 foot stainless tubes should look attractive next to the trailer (chrome shiny : ) ) and each being 5.5 feet long, will fit in the rear bumper. The antenna will also fit in there.

I have the rear awning on my trailer and I plan on setting up the antenna at the rear point of the awning using the awning arm for support. A one-inch wide Velcro strip should secure it and the bottom of the extension will get some kind of “mount” that can be staked to the ground or weighted to stop from slippage. A steel rod pounded into the ground would allow for the tube to slip over it. If on a concrete pad, I will have to see what is available.

The USB cord coming from the antenna will go down the antenna and under the trailer on possible hooks and fed to the refrigerator outside vent door. I already owned a USB powered extension (15') that will be added to the length of the USB coming out of the antenna. Be careful not to exceed 32'. (Radiolab's sells their extension for $19). On the sidewall, I will mount the repeater with Velcro. It is a ˝ watt wireless that should have no problem reaching the interior of the trailer. We will see. If it does not work well due to aluminum shielding of the coach, the repeater has an antenna port that can be routed to the interior or attached to the refrigerator cabinet sidewall.

Well, that’s the plan anyway. I will post all of the parts I use with links and pictures when I receive everything. This all started when we took our first trip in the airstream last week to Hocking hills Ohio State park. We had no cell service (ATT) and no Internet.

Yea, I survived, but it wasn’t easy!

Question: Any ideas for grounding or lightening protection? I'm not sure lightening would direct itself down the antenna and into the ground before arching onto the trailer. Wow! Thoughts on this?


Radiolabs repeater:

http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wi...b-repeater.php


Radiolabs XL Antenna:

http://www.radiolabs.com/products/wi...fi-antenna.php

iBoats / Shakespeare 4705 pipe adapter

http://www.iboats.com/Shakespeare-47...view_id.185393


Amazon / Shakespear 4006 double ferrule

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


MetalsDepot

Stainless round tube
1" OD X .065" wall X .870" ID
custom sized to 5.5 feet


https://www.metalsdepot.com/products...cc=%20&aident=
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Old 08-30-2016, 03:50 PM   #2
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I am curious how this will work for you, please keep us posted


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Old 08-30-2016, 03:53 PM   #3
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Very nice setup. It appears simpler than what I use - the Rogue Wave which uses POE (power over ethernet) instead of the power over USB of your system.

For my antenna I have used an extendable 52" to 12' Davis Instrument Boathook that I can use to move overhanging branches while backing into a site.

I have looked at replacing the cable TV outlet on the side of the trailer with a CAT 5 terminal.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adventure.AS View Post
Very nice setup. It appears simpler than what I use - the Rogue Wave which uses POE (power over ethernet) instead of the power over USB of your system.

For my antenna I have used an extendable 52" to 12' Davis Instrument Boathook that I can use to move overhanging branches while backing into a site.

I have looked at replacing the cable TV outlet on the side of the trailer with a CAT 5 terminal.
Hmmmm . . . I could have used that boat hook as the antenna extender!

Well, maybe not. They tend to slip a lot as they get old.
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Old 08-30-2016, 05:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Castaway View Post
I am curious how this will work for you, please keep us posted


Gary
I will. I will take lots of pictures to go along with the thread. Most items have shipped. Radio labs stuff was waiting on a plate they needed to complete the repeater. Has to travel 4 days to me also.

But I will update the thread.
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Old 08-31-2016, 04:30 PM   #6
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Here is something that may work for you on concrete for the antenna base. This one has a 2.5" diameter fitting but something like this would work.
Flagpole To Go Tire Mount:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015UI9AM...YB3TJZT1&psc=1

Please be careful as I have learned with my Flagpole buddy how a little antenna weight at the end of a 24' pole is a hard thing to control! Make sure that your Velcro strip attachment to the awning arm cannot move as the wind hits the antenna and its mast.
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Old 08-31-2016, 04:54 PM   #7
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Great details and information! I love these DIY setups. Seems like great hardware.
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:54 PM   #8
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Thank you!
Will tag along on this project. Can use the design help.
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Old 08-31-2016, 07:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoscoMN View Post
Here is something that may work for you on concrete for the antenna base. This one has a 2.5" diameter fitting but something like this would work.
Flagpole To Go Tire Mount:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015UI9AM...YB3TJZT1&psc=1

Please be careful as I have learned with my Flagpole buddy how a little antenna weight at the end of a 24' pole is a hard thing to control! Make sure that your Velcro strip attachment to the awning arm cannot move as the wind hits the antenna and its mast.

Wow, thats a nice idea. The mast will be further back though and not near the tire. The awning has no attachment points accept for the side arms. This does give me an idea though. The bumper has extensions that already has a hole drilled i believe for the bike rack. I may be able to fabricate a bracket that is attached to the rear driverside bumper. Hmmmmmm ....
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Old 08-31-2016, 07:31 PM   #10
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The more i read, the more i am believing i made the right choice on the radiolabs gear. Chris is the owner of the company and i believe an engineer who has developed all these products. They are well thought out. Some of the tests ive seen have been quite impressive. To Reach a personal hot spot on a phone from a quarter mile is quite amazing. Our cell phones are not that powerful in this mode.

Do a search on radiolabs on youtube and listen to some of the videos about some of their products. I am not connected to them at all, but i love family run busineses with good ideas.
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Old 09-01-2016, 02:57 PM   #11
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Some parts are in

Here are the first of several parts to arrive. The Shakespeare connectors. Two of the tube adapters screw into the female couple and the SS round tube will fit the 1" ID ends of the tube adapter. The adapters have two set screws to hold the tube.

This will allow me to put two 5.5 foot SS tubes together for more height and storability when they get broken down and put away in the rear bumper.


Picts:
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Old 09-02-2016, 04:49 PM   #12
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Tube arrives

The stainless steel tube arrived. Very nice stuff but like any metals, it has sat around in a steel yard collecting oils and dirt and grime. A little polishing with Mother's mag wheel polish and they really shine like chrome!
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Old 09-02-2016, 04:52 PM   #13
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My designer (me) forgot about how these thing go together. I had them cut the tube at 5' 5" not realizing that the coupler and tube ends add to the length. They would not fit into the rear bumper. Only one has to be cut and all that has to come off it 6". They both fit in there very well now.


Tube: one 5' 5"
one 4' 11'
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Old 09-02-2016, 04:54 PM   #14
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Here are some more assorted picts. Remember, the 63" antenna goes up on top of this.
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